BLOG 9-20-2017

The value of Doing Business with Local Small Merchant Shops

Small business is big business, when you consider how many small businesses surround you in your everyday lives. As a reader of this article I'm drawn in further as the writer goes on with an interesting perspective that I can relate to on a deeply personal level. She writes: It is impressive to think about the amount of time, commitment and labor these hard working individuals contribute to make their businesses both come to life and stay alive. Yet, many Americans use anonymous online stores or frequent large out of town stores without considering their local merchant. Customers assume that pricing will automatically be higher at a small business vs. online or a corporate owned store.... a great misconception! Perks that many small businesses offer such as personal customer care, inventory assortment, price matching when possible, community support, local jobs as well as contributing to the state and local tax base is often overlooked and dismissed.

Why it is wrong in assuming that pricing is higher at a small business vs. larger corporate owned business and outlining the perks of going with a small local business. Here's why:

1. Stores do not control pricing of most products. Vendors do. When you consider brand names like Under Armour, you have to consider that the prices identified on them for sale are identified by the vendor not the store. With some exceptions, stores primarily have no control over a product price but rather are provided a MSRP (Manufactured Suggested Retail Price) that tells them the price the product should be sold at. Over time, if the product doesn't sell or a store has a promotional event taking place, this price may be lowered. But generally, vendors want their products sold at their suggested rate, therefore retailers are not encouraged to lower them unless it's discussed in advance. Many small merchants offer discounted items– therefore not making this exclusive to big box stores.

2. Inventory is not always more easily available at big box stores. Small merchants have the same access to vendors as big stores do, therefore if you need an item and it's not available in their store, it's likely your local smaller store has the items. Of course, there are always exceptions, but most small store owners are eager to go above and beyond in their customer service support and this is just one way they can do so for their customers.

3. Customer service is more personalized, hands-on and noteworthy from smaller businesses. Again there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking you should expect that a smaller business will deliver stronger customer service. Their personal commitment to their business certainly helps in these efforts, but even from their collective team – no matter how small or large it is – typically stronger customer care is experienced.

4. Product diversity and options are often greater at small businesses vs. chain stores. Sure, a big box merchant may have a larger footprint in your local community, but that doesn't mean they have more variety to offer you. Just because the bigger merchant is just that…bigger… doesn't mean they have more to offer. The assortment of inventory at the larger store is deeper, which means more overhead and debt.

5. Local business owners are more likely to give back to the community. Beyond actual dollars being kept within your local community – which is significantly higher when dollars are spent at a local business vs. corporate, small business owners are also more likely to "do good" for your community, as well. Small business delivers community character and economic advantages to the town they are positioned in, but also strengthen partnerships amoung neighbors, residents, other small business owners, community leaders and even schools by offering social and economic relationships. Many also support local causes, creating even more good within a community.

There's even a day that celebrates small business – Small Business Saturday – which takes place the Saturday following Thanksgiving, anchored between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Small Business Saturday, any Saturday or any other day in between, supporting small businesses deserves to be part of your everyday routine.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Author of Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business, as well as the Founder of Retail Minded and the Independent Retailer Conference.

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